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Two Women on Wine: wonderful world of wine stores

Find a knowledgeable, experienced wine retailer

Posted: May 27, 2011 6:00 a.m.
Updated: May 27, 2011 6:00 a.m.
Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier
Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier

What is it that a wine store, hardware store, bookstore and lingerie store all have in common? They're all specialty stores, retailers that specialize in a particular type of merchandise and that employ a knowledgeable staff trained to answer questions and solve problems. Think of it this way: When you need a bra, do you go to the grocery store? How about a special wrench? Would a bookstore have that item?

Buying wine isn't like buying Coke or Pepsi. Soft drinks are manufactured according to a precise recipe and manufacturing process, which means every bottle of Coke is created equal. Not so with a bottle of Chardonnay or Merlot.

Producing wine is more sophisticated. Sure, there's the basic wine-making process: harvest the grapes, crush the grapes, ferment the juice, and so on. But it's the expertise of a winemaker who knows, for example, which grapes to blend together or when it's time to stop the fermentation process. That's what creates an exceptional wine.

And it's the knowledgeable, experienced wine retailer who can lead you to discover that great bottle of wine.

Don't get us wrong. We have no problem with wine being purchased in a grocery or big-box store. We did it ourselves for years. But it wasn't always a very satisfying experience. Scouring grocery store shelves for the right bottle of wine or wandering around crates and cartons of bottles stacked in a cavernous warehouse isn't a lot of fun. Worse, there's nobody there to answer questions or make suggestions.

We think buying wine should be as enjoyable an experience as drinking the wine. A good wine store will create a comfortable, friendly atmosphere so customers will enjoy their wine-buying experience.

An important advantage of shopping in a specialty store, whether for wine or hardware, is that you have the expertise of the retailer at your disposal. Every wine has a story. A specialty wine store retailer can tell you the story behind a wine. So when you ask the question, "What makes this wine interesting?" you'll get information you can use to help guide you in your purchase.

Not only that, a good wine retailer can introduce you to hand-crafted artisan wines produced by small regional winemakers. Low profile wines don't enjoy big advertising campaigns to promote them, which is why these wines usually are not available at giant retail outlets. Small artisan vineyards rely on savvy wine store owners to stock their labels and on curious wine customers to seek them out.

Wine stores are always looking for ways to enhance the services they provide to their customers. (Trust us, we know!) That may mean a monthly wine club, frequent-buyer discounts, email announcements and special offers, and wine tastings and other special events. Events like a meet-the-winemaker evening or a food-and-wine pairing reception are usually casual and intimate, not expensive. They are also a lot of fun. What's more, they are opportunities for us, the retailers, to offer you, the customers, occasions for you to enjoy yourselves, while you expand your knowledge and appreciation of wine.

Let's not forget price. You won't find a Two-Buck Chuck in a specialty wine store. If that's what you're looking for, then you know where to find it. But if you're looking for a good, affordable wine, then look no further than a specialty wine store. You won't be disappointed and you may be surprised at what you discover there.

Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier are owners of Vino 100 in Valencia, a unique specialty wine store offering boutique, handcrafted wines from small, artisan vineyards, as well as a large selection of gifts and accessories. Voted Best Wine Selection in the Santa Clarita Valley 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010; voted Best Wine Selection in Los Angeles 2008, 2009, 2010; awarded 2010 Business of the Year by the SCV Press Club, Newsmakers of the Year Awards; named the 2009 Small Business of the Year by the SCV Chamber of Commerce; and named Women In Business, 2008 Entrepreneurs of the Year by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Visit Vino 100, located at 28112 Newhall Ranch Road in the HighRidge Crossing Center at the corner of Copper Hill Drive in Valencia. (661) 294-6886,


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